Intended for healthcare professionals


Reporting of observational studies

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 18 October 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:783
  1. Peter M Rothwell, professor of clinical neurology,
  2. Meena Bhatia, research fellow
  1. Stroke Prevention Research Unit, University Department of Clinical Neurology, Oxford OX2 6HA
  1. peter.rothwell{at}

    New recommendations should help researchers, journal editors, and readers

    In this week's BMJ, von Elm and colleagues report the STROBE (strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology) statement, which recommends what should be included in an accurate and complete report of an analytical observational study.1

    Observational epidemiology has made an immense contribution to our understanding of the causes and treatment of disease. Numerous causal associations between risks factors and disease have been identified (see box in version on Most of these observations have led to substantial improvements in public health by causing changes in policy or by leading to the development of effective treatments.

    A few examples of important causal associations between risk factors and disease that have been identified by clinical epidemiological studies

    • Smoking and cancerw1

    • Radiation exposure and cancerw2

    • Lipids and coronary diseasew3

    • Blood pressure and strokew4

    • Sleeping position and sudden infant deathw5

    • Folate and risk of neural tube defectsw6

    • Hormone replacement therapy and breast cancerw7

    • Male circumcision and HIV infectionw8

    • Aspirin use and colorectal cancerw9

    Observational studies are also essential for effective clinical practice. Cohort studies allow us to improve the reliability …

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